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"There is a very unique story about ['Cost Of Living']," Ronnie tells Country Music Is Love. "That song came to me in 2008. Phillip Coleman had written almost the entire song, all the verses and stuff. It didn't have a title. It didn't have a hook line [or] a chorus. I asked when I first heard it if I could have a shot at it, [saying], 'Could you just give me two days? I won't hold it up or anything.'"
That's when Ronnie came up with the lines, "two dollars and change at the pump, cost of living's high and going up," and the song quickly finished itself. But while the country was reeling from financial losses all across America three years ago, some of the label chiefs felt the song wouldn't be relatable in the future.
"I had one of the record guys saying, 'The economy will be turned around by the time you can get this song out,'" he reveals. Ironically, Ronnie had to go back into the studio to make the lyrics say "three dollars and change at the pump," instead of two dollars. But while the song may be appropriate for the average American today, his record label still initially balked at the idea of the award-winning tunesmith using the song for himself.
"I had another executive come to me and say 'Hey, you're too wealthy to record it, you can't say all this,'" Ronnie notes. But the married father of three was undeterred.
"Well, I grew up in trailer houses in New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Don't pull that one on me, man," he replied. "We can all relate to it. I even look today at the cost to run a bus, it's insane."
The former half of country music's hottest duo admits his tenure with his partner, Kix Brooks, was an important catalyst for his solo career. "The stars for me have lined up for me, where I'm comfortable stepping on stage," Ronnie tells The Boot. "It took going through Brooks & Dunn for me to be comfortable to sell what I put on this record: to do what I'm doing today, to have the confidence and experience as a writer, a performer, a singer and an artist to do what I feel I need to do, and do it justice."
Ronnie's new album debuted at the top of the country charts. He will hit the road this summer to play several dates in support of project, including stops in California, Washington and North Carolina. Keep track of his concert schedule here.